Poetry: More Than a Job by Alan ten-Hoeve

More than a Job

By my third day driving the school bus I noticed that anyone else driving a school bus or vehicle with a yellow CARRYING SCHOOL CHILDREN sign on top gave me a wave.
Nothing big.
Just a slight lift off the steering wheel.
Pale palm and fingers behind the windshield.
We are united.
Bonded in our duty to safely transport the most precious of cargo.
The future of the world.
Us men, women, people of different colors, religions, political beliefs, TV show preferences.
We put our differences aside for a greater good.
We drive through rain, snow, and pandemics.
Into the glare of morning sun.
Bravely hold up traffic at every block to pick up children playing video games on their phones, often while sitting in their parents' warm cars so that they don’t have to experience a moment of boredom or temporal discomfort, and blare our horn at any car that dare to drive through the flashing red lights.
This thing of ours is more than a job.
I belong to something bigger than me.
Bigger than all of us.
We certainly don’t do it for the money.
I knew that if I got sick or, God forbid, died, these other drivers would feel like they lost a member of the family.
Even if we’d never met.
And I would feel the same if something happened to them.
I would say, “We lost a good one today.”
I’d applied for a job and had been adopted into a secret brotherhood.
My heart swelled with pride.
I sat up a little straighter in my seat.
When the next bus approached on the other side of the road I saw the silhouette of my brother, or sister, through the laminated glass.
I stuck my arm out the window.
Gave them a big ol’ wave.
Threw my elbow into it.
And got nothing in return.
Not even one single finger lifted off the steering wheel.
What a fucking piece of shit.

Alan ten-Hoeve drives children to school. He wrote Notes from a Wood-Paneled Basement (Gob Pile Press), and Burn (Malarkey Books KLR10).